Leading anti-spam operation, Spamhaus is threatened with losing its domain name, which would effectively put it out of business. The challenge comes from a company that says that blacklisting by Spamhaus had caused it lost business and jobs.
In September an Illinois court awarded e360 Insight damages against Spamhaus to the tune of $11,715,000 and a permanent injunction to prevent Spamhaus from blacklisting the firm in the future.
Spamhaus did not turn up in court to defend the action as it believed that, being a UK company, it was beyond US jurisdiction and had no assets in the United States that could be seized. This meant that e360 Insight won be default. Lawyers for e360 Insight have now gone back to the court to have the order enforced by seizing the only asset Spamhaus has in the US.
Spamhaus had overlooked the fact that its .org domain is registered with ICANN, which is still, if only nominally, under the jurisdiction of the US government. If ICANN were ordered by a US judge to suspend Spamhaus's domain, it would have little choice but to comply.
This story raises a couple of issues. Spamhaus produces a blacklist of known spammers (many of which come from the US), that is used by many companies to enhance email filters. If the company producing the blacklist was to cease, then our mailboxes would be filling even faster with offers for cheap loans, unwanted stockmarket tips and viagara.
Furthermore, if the US based ICANN is used to assist US courts enforce US decisions, then does the US control the Internet? I shudder at that thought.